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Beliefnet News

Feds crack down on church TV shows

Anglers for Christ received the original exemption

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on religious broadcasters — and this time it’s for real.

For decades, false rumors have circulated that the FCC is trying to shut down all religious programming. It’s one of those rumors that has mushroomed beyond Urban Myth — ranking right up there with the often-repeated but completely false reports that Proctor and Gamble is owned by cultists or that a popular hamburger chain is using earthworms in its burgers. None of the rumors are true, but have been so persistent as to prompt Proctor and Gamble to have an office in charge of answering the latest batch of forwarded email.


However, this time the FCC report is accurate, reports Brooks Boliek for Politico magazine. No, the Obama Administration isn’t attempting to ban Christianity from the airwaves. However, a longstanding exemption given to small ministries — allowing them to distribute programs without closed captioning — has been abruptly rescinded.

“Some 300 small- to medium-sized churches can expect letters from the commission within the next few days explaining why their closed captioning exemptions were lifted for TV shows like ‘Power in the Word’ and ‘Producing Kingdom Citizens,’” reports Boliek:

The FCC has been mailing the letters for the past few days to churches from Maine to California, explaining that the hundreds of exemptions are now rescinded and giving the programmers 90 days to reapply.


The churches were granted FCC exemptions from the closed captioning requirement under a 2006 commission decision known as the “Anglers Order” for the Anglers for Christ Ministries program that had argued for exemption from the rules.

While the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau used the Anglers Order as the model to grant at least 298 other exemptions, the full commission overturned that decision Oct. 20 after objections were raised from a coalition of organizations for the deaf and hard of hearing.

So, the feds are requiring small ministries to reach out to those who cannot hear. That’s really not such a bad thing, you might say. However, at issue is the government’s ever-increasing intrusion into every facet of life — and Craig Parshall of the National Religious Broadcasters isn’t happy about it.


The good news is that exemptions will still be available. Churches — or any other non-profit will just have to make a good argument, reports Boliek:

The churches may still be eligible to win an exemption from the rules if they can prove they can’t afford closed captioning, but they now have to make their case individually.


  • Joe Duffy

    Why don’t some Christians start a Protest Petition, Chain Letter, or Email, that states, “Yes, They’re at it again!, but we can stop them this time!”

    Maybe the Petition will circulate throughout the entire country, become a global urban legend, and get 44 Million Christian signatures attached to it over the next 36 years that it exists, and spirals out of control!!

    I’m waiting for some T.V. Evangelist to announce a Money-raising campaign to fight the FCC bogeyman, and I bet gullible Christians will send Millions of $$ to fund the Evangelist’s luxurious lifestyle.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment tdog

    Another step to making Christanity illegal in this contry. The second coming grows closer.Thank God

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patricia

    Well having read this I don’t see it as a bad thing, still I am sure that there will be a lot of foolishness because of the title. People won’t bother to read just assume.

  • http://None Patsy Davis

    How can you with a good consciousness terminate the broadcasting of TV evangelical or any other religious programming from being shown? THe Feds are bothering me with this statement. I watch a lot of spiritual shows on TV and I am a Christian. Maybe the feds aren’t, but I am. Please do not terminate any religious broadcasting from TV. That isn’t what God wants you to do.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment StanS

    I am a hearing father of a deaf son. I think that without Closed Captioning Christians are excluding those who need Christ. PERIOD. Worship services without interpreters are useless for the Deaf Community. If you think that I am wrong, watch ANY show that doesn’t have CC without sound and see what you get from it. We have millions that go to overseas missions, but ignore those in our community.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rabbi Doni Meleck

    God help us to be wise!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frederick Eily

    This is just another way government is trying to infiltrate the church when churches are having issues themselves it is an attack on Christainity and Jesus

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carissa

    As a professional sign language interpreter, and a member of a Deaf church, I am appalled that church organizations see captioning their programming as such a burden. 95% of Deaf people do not know about Jesus–here in the US!!! I am not a supporter of big intrusive government, but I do believe that communication access is not a privilege, but a right for those who cannot hear. This is a human rights issue, not a money issue.

    C’mon, people, what would Jesus do???

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bill

    Good news. Time for reaching Deaf for Christ. I’m frustrated to find any Christian movie or documentary without cc. I think hearing society allwo Satan wins more lost soul!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Pat Holley

    They should have closed captioning for thehearing impaired! That way you can reach those who might want to know about God. However it shouldnt be a requirement. But dont see why they wouldnt want to.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment TERRY HARMON

    I think the FCC is as goofy as it gets. Being that they are a arm of the federal government they need to think about these fully before they jump off in to the big pond. Some churches can barely afford the fee that they have to pay to have their services on tv.People should have already a tv with closed captioning and it is up to the cable companies and sat networks to put in place.I think the FCC can and will make some exemptions if the church can prove their cases.I know that some joker in Washington D C comes up with these rules. When is FCC going to go back like it was in the 50’s and through the 70’s that you did not hear any cuss words or talk about killing the police or women. And this garbage hears over the radio. No wonder we have all this gang violence in our streets because the kids hear all this stuff. The record companies just want to sell records and the movie companies just want to sell more movies and to heck with verbal content.At least the churches who broadcast their services do not have all the garbage. Thank you broadcasters for bringing us the good news.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment deborah

    he said upon this rock i will build my church, so who church is it no whit are they going to do next say we cannot have a bible in are home and yes i try to live for god everyday but i have to ask him for help along the way god bless all of

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Marimay Cervantes

    I sometimes watch Northpoint Community Chuch in the Atlanta area. Is the one of the church services that is going to be taken of TV? Actually it is on the internet. Waiting for an answer. Thank you

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Steve

    It’s a sad day in America when the Federal Government is cracking down on what this great Country was founded on. WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY BECOMING?????? WAKE UP AMERICA.

  • Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

    It doesn’t appear anybody will be taken off the air. They will have to either start adding closed captioning or apply for a new exemption.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Anglican

    It sounds fair, and definitely good for the deaf who should never have been left out of any of the Good News to be found on the air waves. Is internet streaming affected at all?
    God bless us everyone.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment edee

    Its really ashame that Churches have become a business for one thing and for leaders of this churches want to live like kings and the flock cryout for help and can’t get any. I don’t mean money. People need to be help in dealing with todays issues,but; all the churches want to throw in their faces about tithing to fill their(The Preacher) pockets. The Bible states that we should make sure He is feed and giving a place to lay his head. What make them think that they are better than JESUS. They ask for to much. They look for the Church to pay taxes on half of their income.They look for too many benefits far above what my JESUS needed. Thay don’t have needs, they have want. Should they be exempt, not when it is run like a high rolling business. They should pay their share as their members do every January thru April.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jay

    Why should a church be exempt from the rules that govern broadcasting regulations? Churches aren’t suppose to be political entities, but many are today and rally towards discrimination of people they don’t like. Churches lobby politicians just like corporations do in attempt to push their religious agenda upon the entire nation. The separation of church and state is non-existence. I feel that most churches these days, since they want to dictate how I live my life through legislation, should be taxed as well.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment StanS

    would like to see the “Message” reached to EVERYONE, and the ONLY way to do that is to Caption the broadcasts, one way or another.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Leah

    I do agree that captioning the programs is a good idea, I just don’t think it’s good to go about this way. “Caption your programs or they are off the air.” A lot of church services will be taken off the air with the churches not able to fund captioning. Maybe more people will donate for that, I don’t know. That would be a good thing.

  • http://UGH quentin riha

    Is the government going to put their nose in everything we do? It is scary enough that they are trying to remove all traces of God in our lives.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frank Provasek

    Why the misleading headline? All broadcasters have been notified..since the NIXON administration…of the requirements of captioning for boradcasters using the airwaves. What ministry would not want to make their message available to the deaf? Even the excuse of not being able to afford a typist is moot since speech to text software has been available for years, and is offered free to nonprofit broadcasters. This story just looks like another excuse to fuel the “victim mentality” that Christians are persecuted by the government.

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